The reopening of schools across the country is a high priority, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top disease expert, as he joins the incoming Biden Administration as chief medical advisor.
During a livestream on Friday, Fauci explained the process of allowing the 23 CSU campuses to return to primarily in-person instruction with the California State University chancellor, Timothy White.
“I will push and I believe it will go that way of making it a high priority, making sure we get our schools open and safe,” Fauci said.
On Dec. 9, the CSUs announced that it anticipates students returning to mostly in-person classes for the 2021 fall semester.
Fauci detailed two possible ways to mitigate and monitor infection rates, which includes the idea of vaccinating teachers in addition to conducting surveillance testing to get a clear picture of the perforation. He said that the number of positive COVID-19 cases will hopefully continue to be low in order to avoid shutting the campus down whenever a positive case arises.
He added that universities using intermittent surveillance testing, a process that tracks and collects data about an outbreak within a community, will help get a feel for any possible below the radar spread.
Fauci also discussed concerns regarding racial disparities in vaccine trials. He said that multiple vaccine trials were monitored to ensure the inclusion of racial minorities and noted the difficulty in getting minority populations to participate in clinical trials set up by the federal government, due to an “understandable distrust” based on a difficult history.
Fauci said that there was a good representation of minority communities in the Moderna trial, as 11% of trial subjects were Black and 21% were Latinx, which was aimed to accurately represent the U.S. population.
“It’s really important to get minorities represented in the trial because when the trial is shown to be safe and effective, you can then look at the community in the eye and say, ‘This vaccine is safe and effective in you,’” Fauci said. “That’s much better than saying, ‘Take the vaccine and take our word for it.’ It isn’t our word — it’s scientifically proven.”
The fear of taking the vaccine is the only thing stopping U.S. citizens from leaving the pandemic behind them, Fauci said. He added that people have a responsibility to encourage others to take the vaccine.
He urged people from all demographic groups to get the vaccine in order to obtain a range between 70% to 85% of the population vaccinated that would then create a “blanket of herd immunity” essentially ending the outbreak, Fauci said.
“It would be tragic now that we have in our hands vaccines that are 94-95% effective and we don’t get as many people as we can to utilize that,” Fauci said.
Fauci warned about the possible harm that could be caused as the holiday season continues and urged California residents to avoid large gatherings.
The Intensive Care Unit capacity in Southern California fell to 0% forcing hospitals to prioritize sicker patients. On Dec. 5, Southern California began a month-long stay-at-home order, temporarily closing many non-essential businesses once again.
As of Dec. 18, Cal State Fullerton had 40 COVID-19 cases on campus consisting of 13 students, 21 employees and 6 vendors or contractors. The university has also reported 78 cases off campus including 49 students, 28 employees and one vendor or contractor.